Article by FabafterFifty
With six million British nationals planning to head overseas when they retire], the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is teaming up with ‘A Place in the Sun’ to urge UK retirees and others considering a move abroad to think long-term and plan thoroughly.
According to ‘A Place in the Sun’, there has been a swing back towards more established destinations since the global downturn, with Spain, Portugal and France proving to be particularly popular – both for buying a second home and full-time relocation. For many, moving to foreign climes to settle down in a place with warmer weather, different scenery and a change in lifestyle is an appealing prospect.
But there are many things to consider to help ensure a smooth transition. Despite the importance of being prepared before heading overseas, a recent survey2 has suggested that only a third of British nationals (32%) believe doing their own research is the most important thing to do before moving. Just one in ten (10%) saw their long-term financial requirements as the most important factor.
James Duddridge, Minister for Consular Affairs, said: “Moving abroad can be a wonderful experience, but living somewhere new is very different to your average holiday. It’s crucial to think about the future and allow plenty of time to do your research.
“A permanent or semi-permanent move overseas involves many practical and social changes. We would advise British nationals to take their time to research all aspects required for a successful move, such as the laws and customs of your future home country, the long-term financial implications for you and your family, any legal issues requiring independent advice and your current and future health needs. Remember, relocating is about more than bricks and mortar”.
Andy Bridge, Managing Director of A Place in the Sun, said:
“It’s no coincidence that people who make the most successful transition abroad are those who are fully prepared and have done their research. Considering long-term financial requirements, learning the local language and seeking independent legal advice are just some of the important things you should think about. The FCO’s moving abroad checklist is a good place to start.’
Carole Hallett Mobbs, editor of ExpatChild.com, moved to South Africa over a year ago and comments:
“I speak to British expats frequently, and often people forget simple, everyday steps such as cancelling their water back in the UK, which is a difficult task when you could be thousands of miles away. I would advise those looking to move abroad not to cut all financial ties with their home country when they move. Having a UK bank account left open can prove extremely useful when you discover an outstanding bill or utility needs sorting out, or in case of an emergency.”
Almost half (46%) of the survey respondents who already live abroad said their top piece of advice for those looking to relocate is to be realistic with their expectations. Hallett Mobbs echoes the sentiment: “Successful expats are those who go into their new life with their eyes open, and with a sense of adventure tempered by realism. The grass isn’t greener, it’s just different grass.”
What do you need to know if retiring abroad?
Cara Fortune, from the FCO’s Know Before You Go team, and Andy Bridge, Managing Director of A Place in the Sun, discuss the importance of being prepared before moving abroad and the research we should be doing.
Why are you launching this campaign?
Cara: A recent survey revealed that more than 6 million UK adults are planning to head abroad when they retire. We want to help ensure that every one of them, and any other British national looking to move overseas, has a smooth transition. So we are using this campaign to encourage people to ’know before they go’.
Where are Brits relocating to?
Andy: Every year large numbers of British nationals move to countries all over the world for all sorts of reasons, from job opportunities to a dream retirement in the sun. There has been a swing back towards more established destinations following the global economic downturn, with Spain, Portugal, France, Australia and USA proving to be particularly popular – both for buying a second home and full-time relocation.
Are there any key trends, which you are noticing?
Andy: There will always be a few intrepid movers – this year we’ve seen one of our Costa Rica TV property hunters moving there full-time – but on the whole this is not an era where new destinations are popping up, people are sticking to the tried and tested locations.
Why should Brits research their destination before moving abroad?
Cara: A permanent or semi-permanent move overseas involves many practical and social changes, and successfully adapting to these changes inevitably requires preparation. To ensure a smooth transition and make the most of a move overseas, it’s crucial to take the time to research thoroughly.
Is there any specific advice you would give to Brits looking to move abroad?
Cara: There are a number of steps people can take. I’d always encourage anyone thinking about moving abroad to research the destination fully and to not rush the process – for example, do you know what the place is like at different times of the year? Take time to ensure you are making an informed choice. Many people have found renting in the area first is a good way to test the waters.
When you do decide to purchase, ensure you get good and independent legal advice. Consider your long-term finances too, such as your pension, benefits or the effect the exchange rate could have on your salary, and make sure you have prepared for any current or future health needs. Last but not least, think long-term about integrating into the community, including by learning the local language if necessary – your life abroad will be more than bricks and mortar!
If you are planning to move abroad, visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/abroad/living-abroad for more information, and if you know the country you would like to move to, check the FCO’s Living In guides https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/overseas-living-in-guides for more details. We also have guidance on buying property abroad – https://www.gov.uk/guidance-for-buying-property-abroad.